Limerick City and County Council will hold a special meeting in the Community Centre in Pallasgreen this morning, to pay tributes to Mary Harty, the former cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council.
The meeting will be at 9.30am in order to pass a vote of sympathy. Councillors will then head to Nicker Church for Requiem Mass at 11.30, followed by burial to Old Pallas Cemetery.
Tributes to the very popular councillor, who was elected on three occasions came from all political parties, and in particular from her colleagues in Fine Gael.
Long time friend Finance Minister Michael Noonan led the way. “Mary was a close personal friend. She was a very warm, caring person and these attributes were the hallmark of her political career, her career as a teacher and her relationship with her family and friends.
“I wish to offer my sincere sympathy to her sisters Carmel and Siobhan and her brother Eamonn,” he said.
“She was widely respected and a highly capable public representative, and was well liked by her colleagues for the dignified way in which she carried out her public functions. Despite being diagnosed with motor neuron disease, Mary courageously continued her work as a public representative, and I know she was at the heart of the current IMNDA fundraising effort that is ongoing on social media,” he added.
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan, of Labour, also knew the late councillor very well.
“Mary served with distinction as county councillor, and in a landmark achievement was only the third woman to be elected as cathaoirleach. She was widely respected and a highly capable public representative, and was well liked by her colleagues for the dignified way in which she carried out her public functions.”
Fine Gael Limerick TD, Patrick O’Donovan also paid tribute: “It was with great sadness that I heard of the death of my friend, former cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, Mary Harty, who has passed away after a long battle with MND. Everyone is talking about MND this week and it is ironic that is it at this time that we should lose such a wonderful public representative and for me personally, such a good friend.”
Deputy O’Donovan said that last week he was delighted to accept Mary’s Ice Bucket Challenge. “I know from talking to her sister that the challenge gave her a welcome boost. I sat beside Mary in Limerick County Council and we became great friends. I saw how she devoted herself to the East Limerick area that first elected her in 1999,” he said.
“She nominated me to stand for the Dáil in 2010 and campaigned every day with me across East Limerick. She came to Dublin with me, together with my family and friends, when I took my seat in the Dáil in March 2011 and she was thrilled to see Fine Gael, who she had worked so hard for, for so long, being elected to Government.”
Chairman of Limerick City and County Council, Cllr Kevin Sheahan, said that sadly, we lost Mary far too young.
“It is so poignant that she lost her battle against Motor Neuron Disease this week when there’s a huge campaign under way raise awareness of this terrible disease.”
He said despite her illness, Mary still turned up to all Council meetings right to the very end. Fittingly the last historic meeting of the Castleconnell electoral area was held in Nicker in April to honour her for her huge contribution to local life.
“I would like to offer my sincere sympathies to her family on behalf of myself and the elected members, management and staff of Limerick City and County Council.”
Fine Gael colleague, Kieran O’Donnell TD has expressed his deepest sympathies to the Harty family.
“Mary was a lady of great warmth and generosity of spirit. A very capable person, she represented the interests of her people with great skill and dedication. Her ability was clearly evident during her term as Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council.
“She was a rock within her community and a source of great strength for all. The way that she faced her illness was inspiring to all of us who knew her.” Long-time colleague Dan Neville expressed his sadness on hearing of the death of his good friend.
“Mary was a member of Limerick County Council from 1999 to 2014. One of the highlights of Mary’s political career was being elected cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council and her tenure as cathaoirleach was described by colleagues and council officials as distinguished.
“As well as being a county councillor Mary was a primary school teacher and she retired from teaching in November 2013 after having spent 30 years teaching in Nicker primary school. Mary showed such courage and bravery in dealing with Motor Neurone Disease,” he said.
“She worked tirelessly for her constituents and many of them who have contacted my constituency office today have spoken of Mary’s ability always to have time to listen to people and take on board their needs and do whatever was in her power to assist them. May I take this opportunity of passing on my condolences to Mary’s devoted family Eamon, Carmel and Siobhan and to her extended family and many friends.”
Fianna Fail’s Niall Collins TD also praised Cllr Harty. “I worked along side Mary as a member of Limerick County Council from 2004 to 2007 and I found her to be a true professional in all her dealings with the public and public representatives.” he said.